A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-35 fighter aircraft for the second time in four days, the Navy said in a statement.
According to the Navy, the Russian pilots flew in an unsafe and unprofessional manner while intercepting the P-8A in U.S. Sixth Fleet on April 19. This incident follows the April 15 interaction over the same waters, where a Russian SU-35 flew inverted within 25 ft. of the U.S. P-8A.
During the April 19 incident, the Poseidon was intercepted twice by a Russian Su-35 over a period of 100 minutes. The first intercept was deemed safe and professional. The second intercept was determined to be unsafe and unprofessional due to the Su-35 a conducting high-speed, high-powered maneuver that decreased aircraft separation to within 25 feet, directly in front of the P-8A, exposing the U.S. aircraft to wake turbulence and jet exhaust.
The Navy said that the P-8A, which was operating at a constant altitude and airspeed, descended to create separation and ensure safety of both aircraft in response to the intercept.
“The unnecessary actions of the Russian SU-35 pilot were inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules, seriously jeopardizing the safety of flight of both aircraft”, said the Navy statement.
“While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible. We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA). Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions”, read a statement released by the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet.
This incident follows the April 15 interaction over the same waters, where a Russian SU-35 flew inverted within 25 ft. of the U.S. P-8A. The U.S. Navy said that in both cases, the U.S. aircraft were operating consistent with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity.